Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


 Do Livelihood Programmes Empower Women? Evidence from Self-Help Groups in Rural India


Ashwini Deshpande 
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


31st August, 2017 (Thursday) at 3:00 PM

Venue : Seminar Room (First Floor)
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics

All are cordially invited

Based on primary data from a  large-scale rural survey of the ten poorest districts in Maharashtra, this paper examines the impact of participation in self-help groups on livelihoods and various other dimensions of women’s lives, e.g. political participation, awareness of administrative positions, financial literacy and autonomy, decision-making and mobility, access to information and entertainment, personal efficacy and aspirations for their children. We find a strong positive impact of SHG membership on the various empowerment measures, but no significant effect on livelihoods. We also investigate if these effects are differentiated by women’s social identity — specifically caste and tribal status — and find that the impact is stronger for women from marginalised groups. Rural Maharashtra offers a rich repository of distinct SHG models. Qualitative observations during field visits indicate that details matter: the specific mobilisation process and design of the livelihoods programme might be key inputs that determine success.


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